Editors Note


Volume 3, Week 42

Editors Note

Brilliant!      What a game. After the disappointment of the Springbok campaign and seeing their rears exposed in rather dubious circumstances, the World Cup final was a brilliant test match that lived up to all expectations. Unlike their poor brethren, deprived of clothing and dignity, the players, coaches and match officials can hold their heads high and be immensely proud of the truly historic occasion they produced.

First and foremost, congratulations England! The performance on the day, the winner’s medals and ole Bill in the bag proved once and for all that you are the best team on the planet. The match was gripping and this very interested bystander could not help but get emotionally involved, and forgive me but my loyalties in this match jumped more than a kangaroo on THG.

First there was the marvelous cross-kick-up-and-under from Larkham that bought back visions of Jason Little and Horan scoring countless tries against suspecting opposition. This time Tuqiri, ranked above midget Robinson to pluck the ball from the air and score the opening points. It looked Australia all the way.

Well, as we’ve become accustomed to, England came back strongly and in true bulldog fashion smothered the Wallabies of possession and in turn created opportunities of their own. Robinson atoned for his vertically challenged frame by propelling it across the wet Sydney turf for an excellent try after some brilliant play by Lawrence ‘snif-snif’ Dalaglio and the boy wonder Jonny Wilkinson. It looked England all the way.

With some superhuman efforts the Wallabies managed to stay in the match through some nerveless kicking by Elton Flatley – how big is his cahoonas? Oops apologies, if he was a Springbok everyone would have known by now… anyway, it was tremendous calmness under intense pressure that drew Gregan’s men level at full time. 20 minutes extra time was going to separate, two sides who had given their all. England had surely stuffed up their chances and the Ausies would stage another spectacular Blaine act.< br>
The final minute of this pulsating match determined the outcome – Eddie Jones memorably commented that England was the best side in the world by one minute, but sometimes it is seconds that make a difference, ask Michael Schumacher. Ultimately Jonny dropped a famous goal a la Stransky and it was full time. Scripted to perfection.

One of the most pleasing things of the whole affair was the speeches made by Gregan and Johnson after the match. Magnanimous in defeat, the little scrumhalf regained the respect he contrived to lose with his on the field whinging style. Good on you George. As for the captain of the World Champions, I’m sure there are a few broken camera lenses as the big brooding lock has never been seen or pictured smiling as wide and brightly as he did. Brilliant, Jonno – as this critic’s man of the match little else can be said of a man who has taken up his place with the greats of his position. 

The World Cup and the final was a spectacular success and it underlined the true values of sportsmanship and the game of rugby. Two countries will walk away from the month and a half knowing that their systems are working, that professionalism is fully entrenched and with that knowledge look forward to leading the game through the 21-century. We know, of course of two countries, one who have failed miserably due to the lack of those very principles and another where so much is expected and always a re and in crucial times nothing is delivered. They will be back.

Next week will be RF’s final edition for the year, after so many happenings, on and off the field a good rest is vital to return with fresh and hopefully refreshing commentary on the rugby world.



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Letter of Apology by Desmond Organ
If the events of the past week are anything to go by, we should all be expecting a formal letter of apology from the Managing Director of SA Rugby (Pty) Ltd. and the head of SARFU. Nothing short of this will in anyway convince even the most loyal of supporters that there is any possibility of a turnaround in the fortunes of the Springbok team.

Perhaps the resignation of the entire senior leadership would satisfy the press and the local supporters; but considering the history of SA rugby and the actions of the leadership team in similar positions of crisis, it is unlikely that we will see anything other than yet another cleansing exercise in the form of commissions of inquiry and apologies. We will in most likelihood witness another round of congratulatory support from the leaders and references to how financially stable the game is at a national level.

I find it somewhat bizarre that the head of SARFU deems it unnecessary to embark on a re – election campaign prior to his return to South Africa from the World Cup. This might just smack of arrogance or a belief that no matter what the various unions want, there is no chance of a change in the leadership given the political status quo. 

The role players in the game at a national level have been nothing short of pathetic in their attempts to cover up what is clearly becoming a national scandal. If the leadership of SA Rugby had the guts to admit that there has been a great deal of mismanagement in the last several months then we might just be heading down the right road. If there was even the slightest chance that the leadership would consider a letter of apology to the fans it should read as follows.

Dear Springbok Supporters,

A quarter final exit from the Rugby World Cup is exactly what we expected at the beginning of the year. We understand the frustration that you must feel, in fact we find the results of the last eighteen months completely unacceptable. We are frustrated and angry and feel that the team should be performing at a much higher level.

Our coaches, our players and our staff collectively share the responsibility for the performance of the team at the World Cup. Our goal has always been to perform at an international level whilst developing and transforming the game at a local level. We have experienced an unacceptable record against the major rugby playing nations in the last two years and our commitment to you is to ensure that it changes dramatically.

For the last year and a half we have engaged in numerous efforts to ensure that the game of rugby remains a force in South African society. We have contracted specialists from a broad range of industries in an attempt to rectify the problems in our game. Our organization and the Springbok team need your continued support in everything we do.

Thank you for continuing to support the game of rugby in South Africa.

Realistically there is more chance of a snow storm in the middle of December, but I for one will be hoping that the latest events will finally bring down the curtain on what must arguably be the darkest period for South African rugby since our re-admission to the international fold.

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The World Cup final and 'that kick' by Vinesh Naicker
After watching the World Cup final I have no doubts that the best two teams in the world fought it out. Australia may not have performed that well during the year but they pulled it out for the World Cup.

The first try to Tuqiri was brilliantly executed and showed a great deal of intelligence. There was no way in the world that the diminutive Robinson was going to rise above Tuqiri to secure the ball.

That try gave the Wallabies and their supporters great heart. For the last few years Australia has been at their best when defending a lead, as they did against NZ in the semi-finals. England however chipped away at that lead with penalty shots. The try to Robinson was probably the best try they have scored in the whole tournament as it was the most important. When England went into the break 14-5 up I thought it was all over for Australia.

The second half performance by Australia demonstrated the gulf that has grown between NZ and South Africa on the one hand and Australia on the other in the professional era. No NZ team since the game has gone professional would have been able to claw back the lead that England had in the pressure cooker environment that is the World Cup. No player in NZ, with the exception of Andrew Mehrtens would have been able to slot home that last penalty shot in normal time as nervelessly as Flatley did at t he end of normal time. When you consider the number of full test caps that Mehrtens has with the few that Flatley had coming into this tournament you really appreciate the big game mentality of the Australian players.

England, however, have been focussed on this tournament since 1999 and they were not about to lose it either. Although many of us may be disgruntled by the fact that the tournament was once more won by a drop goal rather than a try, you have to appreciate the countless hours of practice that Wilkinson and his team-mates put in to allow him to execute that shot so smoothly in the last minute of extra time.

John Mitchell, in defence of his performance, said that this All Black team lacked the maturity to win. The same was said of the Springboks, with Straeuli claiming the tournament had come a year to early for his team. Did neither coach have a calendar? Newsflash guys, the World Cup comes around every four years, I can tell you right now the next one will be in 2007. There is no point in having the best team in the world in 2004 just as there will be no point in 2008. You will not be able to pr ove that your team is the best and in subsequent years no one will care. You cannot hope that your preparations will fall into place on the big day you have to plant meticulously both physically and mentally for the three, or perhaps four, big games you will fact in that year.

Australia and England in this years tournament demonstrated that they have the big game mentality. NZ has not demonstrated this in the professional era and the Springboks too are starting to choke on the big occasions.

Some of this lack of mental hardness and concentration can be traced directly to the fact that we do not have any big professional team sports in NZ. England has many professional sports from which to draw expertise and Australia has their long history of professionalism in league. For NZ, rugby is the first big game to go truly professional and from the evidence to date they are struggling to find their way.

NZ and South Africa both need to accept that, although they may have been the greatest two teams in the amateur era, their respective rugby unions can not continue to trade on the past reputation of their teams for much longer. Both NZ and South Africa have been mediocre in the professional era and now we are starting to see the positive effects of professional really show through in teams like Englands results. They have 43 wins from 47 games in the last three years. We may start to see some we aknesses in the England team as some of their veterans start retiring, but with the increase in profile the sport will receive over there now that they are World Cup holders their team, and the systems they have in place, they will remain the team to beat for the next few years. Both NZ and South Africa need to come up with a new paradigm for success as their current structures and processes are not working.

On another note I have heard many people suggesting that drop goals should not decide a game and that the value of a drop goal and of a penalty should be reduced to 2 points or 1 point.

I disagree with making any changes to penalties as reducing the value of a penalty will further encourage teams to infringe and make close games even more disjointed.

With regards to drop goals, my main concern is the whole lack of contact aspect to them which make them seem anti-climatic. They are not really contestable, no one has infringed or missed a tackle and yet the defending team are forced to stand there and watch the ball fly over their heads to quite possibly lose them the game. The resilience that they have shown in defending their try line is undercut by someone standing 30 metres out and taking risk free point scoring opportunities.

Currently, the attacking team may have a drop goal attempt, miss, and then be rewarded for their failure by having the defending team return possession to them by kicking out from their 22 metre line.

In contrast if the attacking team makes an attacking kick for their players to run on to, and miscalculates so that the ball goes dead in play, they are invariably punished by having a scrum awarded against them from where the kick was made.

It seems to me that if we are to encourage tries being scored and encourage attacking play then drop goals should, at the very least, be treated in the same manner as an attacking kick. If you make your kick attempt, and miss, then you should have a scrum awarded against you.

This is a relatively minor rule change that would address the inconsistent treatment between different types of attacking kicks and thereby act to encourage try scoring.

I have sometimes wondered how the referee can tell the difference between an attacking kick and a bad drop goal attempt, treating them both the same way would avoid the need to make that decision.

I don't give a sh*t.       Carlos Spencer, who was asked who would win the Stephen Larkham/Jonny Wilkinson playmaker battle in the World Cup final.

If we aren't good enough then we won't win the game. If we are good enough, we will win. There is no fear of failure here.     Eddie Jones

Of 300 players tested during the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia, none tested positive for a banned substance.      Tim Ricketts, the official in charge of testing at the Rugby World Cup

No one I know of did anything against his will. Everyone wanted to take part in the activities. Some of the exercises were difficult, yes, but not everything in life is easy.    Lawrence Sephaka on camp 'Staaldraad'

The only way I'll be disappointed is if I haven't done my job, not made the right calls, not fought for something. If we win it'll be because we deserved it. If we don't it'll be because Australia played better. If that happens, we'll shake hands and move on.       Clive Woodward

It takes 15 players, the whole team was brilliant. I'm speechless. It's been an awesome night here. I'll never forget this.       Clive Woodward

I'm just happy for the players you know, they put so much into it, they put their heart and soul into it and the fans who have come out here are just fantastic... Credit to Australia, it's been a great World Cup, they've had an absolutely brilliant tournament, they've got here to the Final themselves and played great. It couldn't have been any closer and I'm just happy to be on the right side.           Martin Johnson

They're the best team in the world by one minute.         Eddie Jones

It was a massive final, wasn't it? It went into extra time, two world class teams going at it hammer and tongs. You know, congratulations must be extended to the English team. They delivered under pressure and they delivered when it counted. But I'm so proud of my guys, we gutsed it out, we fought back, we were down 14-5, we brought it back to extra time. To all the support here both English fans and Australian fans, for us as players it's a highlight of our career and thank you for making it such a wonderful night.     George Gregan

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Letters to the Editor
Hi Lucas

Once again a very interesting forum, especially comments from the likes of Chris Erasmus, to answer his so called question about rabbits that Rudolf was pulling out of a hat no Chris it was baboons. The Springboks were doomed before entering the RWC arena (Straeuli helped with his selection) but ultimately how can a side go into a World cup focused, when they have been sidetracked by been interrogated regarding a racial issue. Other countries such as Australia would have kept a lid on it until after the World cup event and then sorted the matter out without washing it through the media. For example in an article on the Australian cricketers and their gambling habits this information was only revealed years later to the public, what happened to the pe rpetrators very little got a fine but still represented their country the difference is called "professionalism, the will to win at all costs." Something South African sport should look into and leave the politics out. 

As I said before in past articles, the rugby stadiums in South Africa are going to become empty (white elephants). The paying fans are getting sick of been duped by administrators, players and officials, I will only go to live rugby match when I get a free complimentary ticket otherwise I watch it on television. If future the popular supported sports in South Africa will be golf, swimming and athletics( can't help adding this in even tiddley winks), Rugby, football and cricket will end up second fidd le. 


Hi Lucas

The rugby world cup came and went. With high hopes and expectations did we wait and anticipate a miracle. In the circumstances I thought we did extremely well. A coach that had more or less than 14 months to prepare a rugby team to conquer the world, a bit far fetched I would say. Given the facts and the results, we did very well to beat the Samoans. We as South Africans must face the facts, we are not amongst the best rugby playing nations in the world anymore (first 3). 

If you could find in your archives I wrote a while back that the day is coming that we will have to qualify to play in the world cup. I know exactly what is wrong but if you have an opinion that sounds wrong you are branded as a racist. One of the few that really deserved his place in that squad was Ashwin Willemse. So nobody can label me as a racist. I was labelled before because of having an opinion. It is just a bad excuse to hide incompetence in this country for everything that goes wrong. Look at Ke pler Wessels, he is going to be hanged. Dr Luyt once said, "if you are in a hole, stop digging". The more the accused try to say anything, the more he is in trouble. 

Brian van Rooyen will mess up the situation even more. Mark my words. I am willing and prepared to take anybody a R10000 (Ten Thousand Rand) bet that he will stuff things up more. We wait and see what will happen when he takes over in Silas's place. We will measure and weigh him as well. Give him a year or two. Remember what van Rooyen did or try to do to Dr Luyt. As I have said in the past, you can buy ground but you can not buy background. 

Camp "Doringdraad" or "draadtrek" whatever the name is, what is the fuss or hype. Ruda Landman should concentrate on things a woman should, knitting, crochet and baking. Leave the men's stuff to men. As I have said in the past, if something goes wrong, blame apartheid or its methods, not that I condone it. Not one of those guys that played in that team were ever in the army. Sports psychology, what is that? You win or get kicked in the bols. I know what is our problem, we have lost the hunger and instinct to win. Leave the game to people that have the now how. SARFU is a public company of which I am a big contributor of the sponsor. SARFU does not perform to my liking. The people that play are employed by SARFU. SARFU makes the wrong choices. The management should be replaced with people with the knowledge.

I rest my case.
Chrisjan X 
P.S The motherland has stuffed up the colonies

Hi Lucas

Shame on You, onse trainertjie

Moet ons verbaas wees of wat? Wat kan ons sê wat nie alreeds kwytgeraak is deur ieder en elk oor ons veelbesproke "trainertjie" en sy gedweë skapies, ekskuus, 'fikste bokkies" (span) by die wereldbeker-toernooi. Ons almal het gedink iemand is onnosel maar nou is alle twyfel uit die weg geruim, nou weet ons. Om darem letterlik jou waardigheid, selfrespek, jou eer letterlik deur die modder te laat sleep en verneder te word deur 'n groot dom trainertjie en letterlik soos skape ter slagting aan die wêrel d se bestes oorgelaat te word, en dit alles vir geld en omdat nie een van die span wou standpunt inneem, sy rug styf maak en karakter wys en die trainertjie in sy peetjie in stuur met sy Staaldraad-kamp en al nie. Sorry, die manne word betaal en daar word verwag dat hulle sal rugby eet, slaap en leef op 'n rugbyveld en in rugbybesprekings en rugby-dit en rugby-dat en ordentlike sielkundige voorberei sal word, ag nee, ek raak sommer so halfpad met hierdie storie net van vooraf die m**r in. Gekkeparadys, dis wat dit was, en die hoofnar, ons Nasionale trots, die groot dom trainertjie.

Nou weet ek hoekom ons spannetjie so oorbluf en soos dwaalgeeste teen die All Blacks was, die oomblik toe die Haka 'n aanvang neem en ons fikste Staaldraad-spannetjie op aandag kom en met verlange vlak in hulle oë en weemoed in die stem onse volkslied sing en met heimweë aan die kamp terugdink en terugval in daai middeleeuse-sielkundige toestand van Kamp Staaldraad, tot die dood toe moeg en vaak, ge-irriteerd, honger, koud en verneder en kaalgestroop van waardigheid, toe is dit 'n geval van oorlewing en rugby is bysaak, vernuf is afgestomp, die magic is doodgewurg, die wil gebreek en siedaar, 'n patetiese grap van 'n vertoning deur onse span.

Een positiewe wat uit die gemors kom is dat ons met 'n klomp vernuftige bal-op-pompers sit wat weet hoe voel dit om koud te kry en verneder te word. SIES! Skaam jou, trainertjie. O-ja, hy gaan sy alie sien, totsiens en ghoebaai.

Nou weet ons ook hoekom die manne wat kan speel en 'n opinie het, tuis moes bly.

Koos Carelse

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